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Heart Valve Disease: Diagnosis

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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (12/1/2012).

Your doctors can listen for the distinct sounds or murmurs of valve disease with a stethoscope.

Other tests are usually more specific and include:

  • Echocardiography (a sonogram of your heart): This produces a picture of the thickness of your heart's walls, your valves' shape and action, and the size of your valve openings. Doppler echocardiography (ultrasound) can be used to determine the severity of the narrowing (stenosis) or backflow (regurgitation).

  • Electrocardiography (EKG or ECG): This can be used to find out if your ventricles or atria are enlarged. This test can also determine if you have an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

  • Chest X-ray: This can show if your heart is enlarged, which can happen if a valve is not working properly.

  • Cardiac Catheterization: This is a minimally invasive way to determine the severity of valvular disease, most often used for stenotic valves.

  • Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This can give a 3-dimensional picture of your heart and valves and their function.

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